Jamaica officials mull marijuana reform, expunging pot criminal records


William Breathes.
Jamaican outdoor herb.

Marijuana reform is growing around the world, but particularly in the tiny Caribbean island nation of Jamaica, which has long been known as a cannabis capital of the world despite the fact that the plant remains illegal there.
Increasingly, there has been talk of legalization of small amounts of cannabis from some members of the progressive government. But more immediately, Jamaican officials say they will push for legislation that expunges any criminal records for marijuana possession or use.

Justice Minister Mark Golding has pushed for the measure, which he says would prevent the criminalization of entire generations of youth.
“I brought a submission to Cabinet seeking approval of amendments to the criminal records expungement legislation to provide for (among other things) the automatic expungement of criminal records for convictions for possession of small quantities (or smoking) of ganja,” Golding told The Jamaica Gleaner.
Instead of opposition, Golding has actually seen a slew of support. Some legislators have even gone so far as to call for an immediate adoption of the measure. Sen. Tom Tavares-Finson says the bill needs to be enacted now and doesn’t require six months of debate.
“The legislation should be enacted immediately to expunge the records for those with convictions for small quantities of marijuana,” Tavares-Finson said. “It does not require even six months of parliamentary debate to do this.”
According to Tavares-Finson, more than 300 young men are arrested every week for cannabis-related issues – mostly for smoking or possession small amounts of the herb.
But Golding says he will go through the proper channels with his bill and will submit the bill to the Legislation Committee of Cabinet for consideration. If approved, the bill would move back to the Cabinet for discussion in Parliament.
Read more over at the Jamaica Gleaner.